When working with key opinion leaders (KOLs), medical science liaisons (MSLs) usually take one of four different approaches. Most — but not all — of these paths can work well if the timing is right. On the other hand, poor timing and other missteps can risk ruining the MSL/KOL relationship.
Let’s look at each path:
- Discovery: I’m here to learn from you so that we can improve patient care.
By definition, KOLs are individuals whose opinions matter. They should be heard. MSLs need to understand the KOL’s thinking.
When they take the path of discovery, MSLs must be sincere. Superficial efforts to learn from the KOL are an immediate turn-off.
- Resources: I’m here to see if you want to participate in specific services, such as speakers’ programs, investigator opportunities, advisory boards, etc.
For some KOLs, program involvement is the primary reason for meeting with your MSLs; for others, this will be far less important. It can be useful for the MSL to know whether programs are important to the KOL to provide information of value.
If your MSLs are unable to offer programmatic support, they must clearly state this limitation in order to avoid committing the sin of wasting the KOL’s time.
- Information: I’m here to educate you about the latest thinking in the therapeutic class and the appropriate role of our product in medical care. The MSL can provide educational information after — and only after — establishing credibility with the KOL, or when a KOL has a specific product-related question and seeks information from the manufacturer. Rushing to provide this type of information too early in the relationship puts the MSL at risk of being viewed as a sales representative with a different title.
- Metrics: I’m here to comply with in-house Medical Affairs (MA) program requirements. Simply “checking the box” is never the right choice, and yet it is all too common. It occurs when in-house metrics gauge MSL success by the number of calls or the length of time spent with KOLs. Neither of those metrics matters if the KOL doesn’t find value in the interaction.
Mapping out the right paths
Clinical SCORE’s blinded third-party researchcan determine what your KOLs value, how they see your MSLs and what they think of your science. It can also track the impact of your MA efforts over time. To learn more, please email Ross Weaveror call (484) 202-6630.